Two years ago, I was critical of the annual budget of $100,000 allocated to the Shop Simi Valley First campaign. To me, it seemed like an extreme amount of money on a campaign whose results are near impossible to measure. For example, is a spike in local shopping and tax revenue a result of a successful Shop Simi Valley First campaign or the outcome of a restoring economy/tax refund season/Holiday shopping season? How can you really know for sure?
A recent study discussed in the Ventura County Star indicates that I might be wrong in assuming the campaign’s success was not measurable. According to this study, the campaign is working, or at least it has been for the past three years. The specifics of the study are important. Let’s take a closer look at the facts first by concentrating on this portion of the VCSTAR article:
The marketing campaign was launched in 2004 to increase shopping in Simi Valley. About 25 percent of the city’s general fund comes from sales taxes.
The study results were based on interviews conducted in May with 300 Simi Valley residents 18 or older.
Research company owner Bill Davis told the committee the study found that since 2007, the last time a study was conducted on the campaign, public awareness of the Shop Simi First slogan has grown from 46 percent to 72 percent.
Obviously, 300 Simi Valley residents is a far cry from the real population, but I still believe the study is credible. It’s likely that the 300 residents represented multiple age groups, occupations and income brackets for a fair representation of the city’s population. There are more scientific ways to represent a fair average of a larger population, but we can assume the focus group was diverse.
The results include:
* In 2007, 34 percent of respondents said the slogan had affected their willingness to shop locally. This year, that number jumped to 44 percent.
* In 2007, 42 percent of respondents said they did not purchase outside Simi Valley. This year, that number grew to 47 percent.
* But the number of respondents who said they made purchases outside Simi Valley, 51 percent, stayed the same.
Looks good, right? Naturally, the next question is how did this increase in awareness of the program effect the city’s bottom line? Like before, I want to know if that a measurable metric or if it’s always going to be something that remains an unknown. Considering human nature, we can all be aware of what’s best for our local economy, but we’re ultimately going to make a decision that works best for us as individuals. This has to do with product availability, product selection and pricing. If selection is greater in another city and prices are cheaper in another city, that’s where the shoppers are going to go. Is Simi Valley a bedroom community like it’s been referred to for years, or is it changing into a shopping destination? Of those two, what do we want it to be?
I’m a believer in shopping locally. If you check the top right corner of this website, you’ll always see the Shop Simi Valley First logo prominently displayed. But until we know for sure how well this is working for our city, I would still prefer to limit the budget on this campaign and see the Chamber of Commerce step in as the primary owner of this effort.